I hope that you have had a chance to practise with your cameras and look at how the Aperture changes the Depth of Field. I know there is a lot to think about when you are taking photographs and I keep adding things to your list, so here's a little Aperture guide for you.
Close-up images - f2.8
A small vignette where you want it all in focus - f5.6
A flat lay or face on image (on a shelf or table for example) - f8/f10
A landscape, building, a whole room where you want it all in focus - f16
This list is just a starting point and get an idea of how different apertures can work for different images. This certainly doesn't mean these are always the Apertures you should use for these situations.
In addition to controlling the Depth of Field, the Aperture also controls how much light is let in through the lens. This video explain this.
This is often where things can get a little confusing, so we have creating this diagram for you.
Controlling the aperture doesn't just help with depth of field but also with shooting in low light.
The smaller the aperture number, the more light the lens will let in and the quicker the shutter will close.
If you are photographing indoors, for example, but not near your happy window then you will need a low aperture number to capture an image that is sharp.
If you want to take a portrait in the early evening when the sun is going down or at an event indoors then instead of using the flash you can use a low aperture number.
However, it's important to understand that although an image shot at a low Aperture number (for example F1.8 or F2.8) will be sharp, it will only be sharp in the small area of focus, as images photographed with a small Aperture number have a shallow depth of field.
When you are photographing indoors you often need to use a tripod. A tripod will keep your camera still and let you shoot at whatever Aperture number you want to. So, if you want to shoot an image with a deep depth of field, for example F10 (and therefore a small Aperture size), the camera's shutter will need to stay open for a long time to let in enough light to create the image. When your camera is on a tripod you can achieve this without any worries about camera shake or blur.
You can read more about how we use a tripod at Makelight here.
To go with this lesson, there's a useful sheet that will help you remember and think about the aperture settings as you are experimenting. At the end of the course you'll have a full download too. Download the latest sheets.